Top 15 things to do in Queenstown
What to Do in Queenstown
Queenstown is well-known as the adventure capital of the world. But it is not all adrenaline and thrills. There are plenty of things to do in Queenstown at a relaxed and comfortable pace as well as plenty of natural scenery to enjoy. Lake Wakatipu, The Remarkables mountain range and pine forest-covered hills are waiting for you to enjoy. As well as amazing eateries, adventure activities, world-class wineries, boat cruises and more! Outlined below are 15 things you might like to check out in and around Queenstown on your trip down here!
Top 15 things to do in Queenstown
1. Visit the wineries
Pinot Noir anyone? Central Otago is New Zealand’s southernmost wine region and is most renowned for its Pinot Noirs. But there are plenty of varieties to enjoy, including many aromatics, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. If you fancy sipping a delicious drop underneath rugged mountains and next to classy vineyards, Queenstown is the place to do it! The great thing is there are a variety of ways to visit the wineries too. You can self-drive, bike, or catch a shuttle between them. Most of the wineries are located towards the northern end of the town and along Gibbston Valley, which is known as the ‘valley of the vines’ - you will see why when you visit!
Join us for some wine tasting and a delicious meal at our favourite local winery on the World Heritage Walking Tour.
2. Ride on the Earnslaw
The iconic steamboat often docked at the wharf on Queenstown’s waterfront is an essential activity while visiting Queenstown. Wander around the century-old vessel and enjoy the vintage décor, deck, and historic displays. There is also an onboard café and bar where you can get food and drinks. The journey across Lake Wakatipu to Walter Peak Station is a scenic 11km cruise, and upon arrival at the Homestead, you can pop off and take a farm tour or enjoy a gourmet BBQ buffet. The return trip is about one and a half hours and takes in panoramic views of the entire Wakatipu Basin.
3. Enjoy a gondola ride
If you’re wondering what to do in Queenstown look no further. This is an iconic ‘must do’ activity. As soon as you enter Queenstown central you will see the gondola – The Southern Hemisphere’s steepest cable. It’s a great activity for any age. Journey up the mountain through the pine trees and enjoy a stunning vista over the town, The Remarkables mountain range and across Lake Wakatipu to Walter and Cecil peaks. At the top is the Stratosfare restaurant where you can enjoy a buffet dinner or drink from the bar.
The gondola is the gateway to access hiking trails, the skyline mountain bike park and is also where the luge ride mentioned below begins.
4. Queenstown Luge
Located at the top of the Gondola is Queenstown’s iconic luge. Similar to a non-motorised go-kart, the luge descends a 1600m track and is fun for the whole family. There are options for both the more adventurous type as well as those interested in a mellow cruise down the tracks whilst taking in the views.
5. Play Golf
Keen to play a spot of golf on one of the most scenic courses in the country? Often described as one of the most picturesque golf courses in the world, the Queenstown Golf Course is a place like no other. Located on the Kelvin Heights Peninsula along the water’s edge of Lake Wakatipu with a backdrop of The Remarkables mountain range, it is a truly spectacular location. The facilities are modern, and they have great conditions all year round.
The green fees range from $65 for NZ affiliated golfers to $100 for non-affiliated golfers and they have equipment available to hire.
6. Queenstown Hikes
There are plenty of walking options in and around Queenstown. Some of them are quite strenuous, others not so much! Below are a few different options to get you started.
Mt Crichton – A beautiful forest loop track through a historical gold mining area. Leading you through spectacular beech forest and alongside rushing waterfalls, the walk takes 2.5 hours and is a well-maintained trail. One of the major highlights is popping in to see the gold mining relics at Sam Summers Hut.
Our Masterpiece Tour finishes with this gem of a hike, a great way to top off an incredible 2 weeks of New Zealand scenery and hospitality.
Lake Hayes - Lake Hayes is well known for the beautiful reflections of the mountains on the calm water. It is a well-formed track, and the loop walk is 8kms taking 2-3 hours. You can do a section of it if you don’t feel like doing the whole thing as there are multiple entry and exit points.
The waterfront- You could spend hours walking around the waterfront and taking in the sights. Head down to Steamer Wharf or Omer Park, or through the Queenstown Gardens and onto the Frankton track.
Bobs Cove – A tranquil little area just out of the hustle and bustle of Queenstown through luscious forest. The trail is 3km taking around an hour but can be extended to walk the 12 Mile Delta track if you please. Wander down to the jetty and admire the breathtakingly clear water in a little oasis with only mountains and the lake to keep you company.
Ben Lomond – This is quite a well-known trail to climb just behind Queenstown. Although, it is not for the faint-hearted! It is considered an advanced hiking track as it is a strenuous climb. There is a 1438m elevation gain taking around 6-8 hours return. The 11km journey starts out in pine forest and opens up to alpine tussock and panoramic views over Queenstown.
The first day of our Kiwi Classic hiking tour is a journey up Ben Lomond giving you a great introduction to New Zealand hiking trails. We know how to do it in style though and cut some time off the hike by enjoying a scenic gondola ride to start the trail.
Queenstown Hill – One of the most iconic Queenstown hikes and an easily accessible trail located just behind the town centre offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and Lake Wakatipu. The track is well maintained and immersed in pine forest before opening up to tussock covered hills. The walk is about 2 hours return, 2.4 km with 600m elevation gain.
There are various lookout points and plenty of places to stop and take a rest. Plus, if you are an early bird it is a lovely spot to catch a sunrise to witness soft pastel colours bouncing off the Remarkables mountain range - making for great viewing and photos.
Related: Experience the area like a local with a few tips on spending 24 hours in Queenstown from our very own expert Jodi!
7. Visit the Queenstown Gardens
Located just next to the town centre are the beautiful Queenstown Gardens. It’s a lovely calm place to visit away from the hustle and bustle of Queenstown central. Enjoy the rose garden, luscious lawns, tranquil lakeside sanctuary and many memorials. There is a bowling green, tennis court and 18-hole disc golf course to enjoy if you please.
8. Cycle the Queenstown Trail
Explore the Queenstown area by bike. With over 120kms of trail next to lakes, mountains, and rivers – all entirely off-road, you are sure to enjoy riding a section while visiting Queenstown. The trail links Queenstown with Arrowtown and the Gibbston valley wine country.
Hire a bike from one of the many operators in Queenstown or Arrowtown, or enjoy a short section of the trail on our Pure South tour.
9. Picnic at Wilsons Bay
Everywhere you go in Queenstown New Zealand you will find nice little picnic spots. One of our favourites is 10km along the Queenstown-Glenorchy Road at a place called Wilson Bay. The water is astonishingly clear, with a beautiful stony beach and mountain backdrop. It’s a great place to lose hours and have a swim in the summer. There is also a hiking and biking track right next door called 7-mile.
10. Queenstown Markets
There’s nothing quite like visiting the local markets to get to know a place. Queenstown Markets is on a Saturday along the waterfront. Enjoy listening to local music, viewing artist displays, crafts, and other unique things on offer.
11. Horse riding
A unique way to explore and immerse yourself in the scenic natural landscapes. There are a variety of horse trekking options to choose from for every ability level. Get up close and personal to the scenery of your choosing. You can pick from Walter Peak Horse treks in the remote countryside, Ben Lomond Horse treks around Ben Lomond station and serene Moke Lake with a bit of a climb through gold mining country, or head down to Glenorchy at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu and witness Lord of the Ring scenery. The options are endless.
12. Take a scenic flight
Another way to experience the area from a unique perspective is with a scenic flight via helicopter or small plane. Popular options are to take flights to Milford Sound or over the nearby National Parks of Mount Aspiring and Fiordland. You can add extras onto your flight like a heli hike or glacier landing. There are endless options to choose from but whatever you pick you will be greeted with canopies of stunning views.
13. Enjoy a farm tour
Farming is the backbone of New Zealand culture and the Walter Peak High Country Farm tour is a wonderful experience for all ages. You can get there by taking a cruise on the Earnslaw. The tour is interactive, and you get to experience a taster of farming life in New Zealand. A few highlights include seeing the dogs at work rounding up sheep, feeding the sheep as well as deer, cattle and alpacas, plus enjoy a delicious refreshment and meander around the lakeside gardens.
14. Jet Boat Experience
For the thrill-seekers! There are a few different jet boating options but the most popular is in the narrow Shotover Canyon. An exhilarating experience in a jet boat that goes over 85km per hour and involves 360degree spins. A real taste of Kiwi adrenaline culture in the adventure capital!
15. Visit the Onsen Hot Pools
This is a luxury soaking option in a stunning location overlooking Shotover River. The ultimate relaxation spot, especially in winter after spending time on the nearby ski fields. The hot pools are picture perfect cedar-lined, with a cosy natural earthy feel. There’s nothing not to love about this luxury boutique spa.
Queenstown has such a special atmosphere. We’re sure you are going to enjoy your visit and now have a few different ideas on things to do in Queenstown.
4 of our incredible guided tours start and end in Queenstown. Request a free copy of our brochure here to see what we’re all about!